Applying for funds
A well-presented application stands the best chance of success when you are applying for public funding, a trust grant or making a sponsorship proposal.
Funding application checklist
- Obtain information about likely funding sources. This can be done online using search engines and funding websites.
- Approach each source (by phone, letter, email or directly through the funder's website) and ask for:
- funding criteria - apply for funding only if you meet the criteria
- background information about the source
- a list of previous grants (if available)
- copies of application forms.
- Know the closing date for applications and get your application in well before.
- Allow plenty of time to prepare your application.
- Draft your application (see Application contents checklist). Complete all the relevant sections of the application form. Attach all the documents requested.
- Discuss the application with the appropriate people in your organisation e.g. your board and communication or strategy advisers.
- Finalise, type and check the application for spelling, clarity, brevity and attractiveness.
- Invite the funder to visit the project or to request further information.
- Applications for funding are usually discoverable, and sponsors account for their donations in their annual reports. If you overstate your activities in an application, or you apply for funding when you do not meet the criteria, the community and the public will know.
- Mark any items you have excluded (or included as extras) in your funding application and footnote them.
- Include any appropriate notes on budget explanations and breakdowns.
- Include, if you have them, three- or five-year development plans.
- If you need help developing a proposal, ask the funder.
- List other organisations to which you have applied and when you expect to hear from them. Funders don't mind your applying to more than one funder or for different grants, but make sure you let them know of any outcomes, especially if an application is turned down.
- Download the funders application form. If one is not available, make your own. Keep a copy of the final version of your application.
- If you don't get an acknowledgement of your application after two or three weeks, ring the funding organisation and check that they have received it.
- Be aware that most schemes have far more applicants than funding, so if you are turned down, try again. It didn't necessarily mean they think your project is no good, they may have just had some particularly good competing projects. Choose another organisation, rewrite the application and keep trying.
- Develop a funding calendar for your organisation that highlights all those funding bodies you can apply to on an annual basis.
- Remember to publicly acknowledge your funders.
- Make sure you meet all the funders requirements for using the funds, such as accountability reports, keeping receipts, etc.
Application contents checklist
A funding application typically requires the following information:
- Introduction - to your organisation, its staff and volunteers, services provided, community served, numbers.
- Legal form - are you an incorporated society or charitable trust? Do you have an umbrella organisation willing to receive money on your behalf? Are you registered for GST?
- The problem - outline the problem your project seeks to address. Enclose any needs analysis, evidence or statistics.
- Outline of the project itself.
- Objectives - these should be specific, achievable and able to be evaluated.
- Procedure - who will implement the project, how and with what?
- Evaluation - explain how you intend to measure whether the project was worthwhile.
- Budget - list all items of anticipated income and expenditure, including staff salaries and administration costs. Note any other sources of funding that you have approached for this project, and when you expect a response. State how much the organisation is providing. Attach professional quotes.
- Request - ask for a specific amount of money that is realistic in terms of the project budget and of the size of the grant usually made by the funding body. In many cases it will be less than the total expenses identified in the budget.
- Contacts - list address and phone numbers of two people who can provide the funder with any further information or clarification.
- Referees - list two or more referees from outside your own organisation who understand the project and support it.
- Other information - attach letters of support and other materials that support your case such as media releases, brochures, annual reports, annual accounts etc. However, be careful not to bombard the funder with lots of additional material. Only include the information and attachments requested by the funder or that are essential to supporting your application.
Commonly, funders make all or part of the application process available online. But be aware there may be some smaller funders who provide only paper application forms and accept only paper applications.
A useful tool to have when you're applying for funds is a funding timeline that documents the critical steps involved in getting a funding application completed on time. Work backwards from the closing dates to set deadlines for the major tasks associated with making an application and tick off each task as it is completed.
Public funding information
Public funding programmes and closing dates change from time to time, so keep an eye on what's available and what are the application closing dates. The Internet is a great source of accurate funding information.
Research via Google, or visit online directories or the Cultural Funding Guide (https://mch.govt.nz/funding-sources). The Department of Internal Affairs' Community Matters website (https://www.communitymatters.govt.nz/) has information on applying for Lottery Grants Board or Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS) grants and various community funding schemes (see the sections called 'Your funders' and 'For organisations' on the Community Matters website).
Check with your local council about funders in your area. You can find your local council's details through Local Government in New Zealand (http://www.localgovt.co.nz/).